Nationalism Petro Poroshenko has cost him the presidency — that’s one of the lessons of influential Western politicians can learn from the crushing defeat of the President of Ukraine, writes in his article for The National Interest political science Professor from Rhode Island University Nicholas Petro.
As the author recalls, Poroshenko lost the presidential election with the most significant in the history of Ukraine behind his opponent. However, his opponent — comedian Vladimir Zelensky, have absolutely no experience in politics — he gained a hitherto unseen number of votes.
“Why after five years of policies that had the full political and financial support from the West, the Ukrainian people rejected Poroshenko and voted for him only every fourth?” — asks the author.
According to the columnist, The National Interest, it happened because of anti-Russian policy of the Ukrainian President spent over five years together with the Verkhovna Rada. Here we are talking about the restrictions on the use of the Russian language, travel to Russia, to trade with her on any social contacts with the Russians, and even those who oppose Putin and support Ukraine, the article said.
The response from the Ukrainians was entirely predictable, as the urban population there is often speak Russian than Ukrainian. In addition, half of the country’s inhabitants have relatives on the other side of the border, the article says. A menacing omen for Poroshenko was published earlier this year, the annual survey, which showed that the sympathy of Ukrainians toward Russia has reached unprecedented may 2014 heights.
Poroshenko, however, continued to adhere to the nationalist ideology. During his reign, he deprived regions the right to use any other language, except Ukrainian, ceased education in Russian schools after the fifth grade, and even sought to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and replace it with a more nationalist and politically loyal, writes columnist for The National Interest.
As a result, the discontent with Poroshenko in Russian-speaking regions are slowly but surely growing. And that is where the presidential election was unexpectedly high turnout. It should be noted that if the party “Opposition bloc” instead of three candidates put forward one, then he likely would have walked Poroshenko in the first round, and the Ukrainians the final choice was made of two “allegedly Pro-Russian candidate”.
Western politicians can learn a lesson or two from the crushing defeat of Poroshenko, said the author. First, the sympathy for Russia among Ukrainians in the near future hardly will decrease. Second, the strategy of the West to support one region or one faction to send the whole country on a different path showed himself in Ukraine not more successful than in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.
It should be clear that Zelensky is not really the puppet of Putin, writes Nikolai Petrov. Its appeal lies in the fact that he, unlike Poroshenko, does not adhere to the nationalist ideology. But this is both his greatest source of popular support, and his greatest weakness, the author stresses. Throughout 2019, he will have to work with the Ukrainian Parliament, nationalist whose composition has not changed since the days of the “Maidan”. However, the popularity of the current Parliament is extremely low. According to most observers, the Parliament will until the end to cling to power and try to spend as much nationalist laws.
The President-elect Zelensky has faced his first political challenge: the Verkhovna Rada plans this week to adopt a law that extends the obligatory use of the Ukrainian language. Although Zelensky, perhaps, has no authority to prevent the adoption of this law, however, after the implementation of this legislative initiative, his supporters will blame the elected President for the incident.
“A key objective Zelensky is to figure out how not to be Poroshenko, who has lost the support of half the country, and as it does not become Yanukovych, who lost the support of the other half of the country. If he succeeds, he will undoubtedly become a Savior of Ukraine,” concludes Nikolai Petrov his article for The National Interest. Used Inotv translation.